There was a time in my youth where I was a Worms addict. I spent countless hours on the PlayStation 1 version of the first Worms game, creating epic rivalries between my friends and I, and frequently introducing the game to those yet to play it. The quality of the original Worms and its numerous sequels made it one franchise I could always go back to – it was reliable. Team 17 have been making Worms games for 19 years, which is an astonishing achievement in the gaming industry. ‘Worms Battlegrounds’, is the first Worms game on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and feels like classic Worms gameplay with a few new ideas thrown in for good measure. Is it another classic, or is it too much of the same old gameplay?
When you first start Worms Battlegrounds, you are immediately thrown into the first story mode mission, which also serves as the game’s tutorial. The tutorial places you in a level where the enemy doesn’t fight back, and you have unlimited ammunition and moves. You are then taught every move in the game, and tasked with demonstrating that you are capable of completing. The whole process feels pointless as Worms‘ iconic gameplay really isn’t that difficult to grasp – you have fun combining random weapons with wind, gravity and other physics found in the game. Thankfully, the tutorial level is over relatively quickly and you are then left to play the game’s story missions, single player, Worm Ops, local multiplayer and online mode.
It might be a minor complaint for most people, but I found the frame rate in Worms Battlegrounds to be fairly poor at the best of times, and even then it has moments where it decides to get worse. It’s hard to appreciate the sexy new worm designs (did I just say that?) when they’re jittering about or skipping their animations.
Regardless of your chosen game mode, your mission will always be the same: eliminate rival teams of worms. Similar to the older Worms games, all gameplay is turn-based, and all movement is side-scrolling (traversing a lateral plane). You will find and utilise a massive amount of weapons, some real (shotguns, Uzi’s) and others are ridiculously overpowered original weapons, such as the Concrete Donkey and the Holy Hand Grenade.
Levels are deceptively simple looking, but are anything but. There’s a surface area, but also an almost labyrinthine network of tunnels and underground areas to explore and use as part of your strategies. The levels have a variety of themes including hellish caverns with flowing lava, WWII battlefields and other more bizarre themes.
The levels in Worms Battlegrounds play differently to the older Worms games, in that they have water raining down on them, or they have bodies of water in them. You can’t drown your worm enemies, but you can use torrents of water to push them into mines, dangerous environmental features or even force them off the map for an instant kill. The water physics are a great addition and really makes for some variety in the classic gameplay.
Worms Battlegrounds has a variety of game are modes, and in addition to the local and online multiplayer (playing with friends on the same console, or through the internet), there are Worm Ops and the Story mode. Worm Ops offers different missions that vary in approach. Essentially Time Attack mode, but with specific ways of dispatching your enemies. The first mission, for example, has a number of enemies scattered around the map that you need to defeat quickly. The only way to do this is by skillfully using the two jetpacks you’re provided with. Worm Ops might not be the average gamer’s cup of tea, but gamers who want to hone their skills for the story and online modes will probably get a lot out of it. I certainly did.
The Story Mode could quite possibly be the best part, or the worst part of Worms Battlegrounds, depending on what you’re after. Like Call of Duty, I get the feeling that the online game mode is what Team 17 really wants to sell with Worms Battlegrounds, and that the Story Mode is enjoyable distractions that like Worm Ops, will help players develop their skills. I was very impressed with the voice acting provided by Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd), but the story really doesn’t develop or move past the humourous-jokes-before-each-mission style it begins with. Nothing really matures, or offers any real explanations. I’m not wanting a serious story (this is a game about worm combat, after all), but I would like to know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Even Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare has more of a story, and it literally has no story mode!
- Classic Worms gameplay gets some impressive new features
- Decent variety of game modes offers good value for money
- Katherine Parkinson is fantastic as the story narrator
- Shallow story
- Awful frame rate
- Repetitive gameplay
Worms Battlegrounds is a fun new addition to the classic 2D Strategy series. While it doesn’t quite deviate from its roots as much as I’d like, die hard Worms fans and those new to the series will appreciate the amount of refinement that went into this title.
Score – 7/10